Sound Control Methods and Costs

06/28/2010 by Wayne Engebretson

Architects and engineers use various methods when attempting to control sound in the environments they are designing. The basic theory behind most products used to control sound is to absorb or control vibration. Sound waves striking a solid object like a door, wall or ceiling cause vibration. Vibration is transmitted from one face of the object through it to the opposite face, thus causing noise. If the vibration can be absorbed or dissipated, then the amount of noise will be reduced.

The unit of measure for sound is the decibel. A decibel, or dB, is used to measure how loud a sound is. Zero decibels are the lowest noticeable sound that can be discerned by a healthy human ear. Pain can be felt anywhere from 120 to 130 decibels.

STC or Sound Transmission Class is a measure of the amount of sound lost when passing through a wall. Standard testing criteria can be found in ASTM International Classification E413 and E90. The generally accepted STC for walls is 34.

Common methods of controlling sound—and their associated costs—are:

Architects and engineers have a number of ways to solve noise related problems. Understanding the physical nature of sound allows them to make the correct choices.

(All prices above are from the 2010 version of RSMeans Building Construction Cost Data.)